My taste in music is literally trash. I started collecting records sometime in high school; a friend that worked at the village dump and I would occasionally riffle through the massive dumpsters and find boxes of LPs that people had pitched out.

One day I’d been on the hunt with him and scored an entire box of KISS records. I imagined someone’s ultra-religious parents probably didn’t approve of their kid listening to “devil music” and had condemned those albums to the trash.

But, to be honest, that’s where those records probably belonged.

My parents weren’t as straightlaced, and I’m sure their aversions were mostly a matter of musical taste, not lyrical content. 

To this day, a good portion of my collection was inspired by those teenage dumpster-diving exploits. I’d pick out records from that day’s finds based on the wild and psychedelic cover art. 

Mountain, Nazareth, ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy . . . so many good records I discovered in those big steel garbage bins. It was always exciting to find out what I’d dig out.

Before I graduated, I needed to downsize so that I could travel around freely. I gave away my modest collection to a friend. Then, for the four years that I was in the Marines, I gave up my hobby.

The sizable paychecks in Afghanistan somehow brought it back. After a year in a combat zone with nothing to spend it on, I found myself with several thousand dollars sitting in my back account.

I could finally afford the collection that I wanted. The records came in like crazy; that bank account quickly emptied through mail-order services and eBay bids.

It wasn’t until I walked into a record store in Lincoln, Nebraska, when I was back home on leave, that I knew what I was really looking for. 

At the front of the rack was a copy of a KISS record, the exact same album that I’d seen flash under my fingers in that dumpster long ago.

The thing that would define my taste in music forever. That thing I gave away because I thought it was trash.

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